Where Yoshinobu Yamamoto lands is anybody’s guess at this point in time, with a number of polarizing reports indicating he could have his decision before or after Christmas. Yamamoto has until January 4, when his 45-day posting window comes to an end. The Yankees remain firmly in the mix, but both the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers have their hand in the cookie jar.
Nonetheless, the Yankees have made extensive efforts to lure Yamamoto to the Bronx, but this has been an ongoing strategy. Not only are the Yankees willing to spend resources, but they had a scout at every single one of Yamamoto‘s starts last season for the Orix Buffaloes, where he pitched 164 innings in the JPPL.
Yamamoto has shown durability at 25 years old, but he has a unique pitch mix that could develop into something special in the MLB. The Yankees haven’t had an international star like this in a long time, but it seems as if that streak is about to be broken if things go their way.
Why the Yankees Lead the Pack for Yamamoto’s Signature:
1. Showed respect, saving No. 18
The number 18 is special in Japanese culture, and the Yankees made sure to keep that number vacant as a sign of respect to Yamamoto. The tiny details go a long way, and the international star certainly values it in some regard.
The Yankees have been planning this pursuit for a while now, which is why they’re being so aggressive and are willing to spend big money on a player who could be an ace in the future. In addition, he represents an entirely different strategy than they’ve been implementing in years past. While they traded for Josh Donaldson at 37 years old two off-seasons ago, this year, they acquired Juan Soto and are looking to land Yamamoto, both of whom are 25.
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2. They have the biggest stage and the brightest lights
The talk of the town is that Yamamoto wants the biggest stage and the brightest lights in baseball. In other words, he wants a regular chance at the playoffs and an opportunity to pitch in the World Series.
The Yankees can offer that in 2024, but so can the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, there’s something special about pitching in the Bronx on a Friday night, if not a playoff atmosphere. Many players have come through Yankee Stadium, but very few are built for that level of competition. The Yankees reportedly were extremely impressed by his composure and his character, two variables that suggest he’s a perfect fit for the rotation.
3. They’re willing to spend
While money isn’t everything, it is certainly a lot in this situation. The expected contract of Yamamoto projects to land in the $250–300 million range. This is no ordinary deal. This is a lucrative contract for a player who’s never pitched an MLB inning before.
His upside is substantial, and the stuff he’s bringing is far better than most prospects climbing the team’s farm system. In fact, the Yankees already have several young pitchers trying to work their way into comfortable roles. Still, Yamamoto would immediately step in as the team’s number two starter alongside Gerrit Cole. Of course, Carlos Rodon could bounce back with a big year, but this is a move built for the future, and the Yankees are clearly doing whatever it takes to convince the Japanese native to sign a lucrative contract.